ESPACIO INTANGIBLE (INTANGIBLE SPACE)
by Lionel Cruet-Morales
A thesis presented to the Department of Art and the City College of New York in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Fine Arts in Digital and Interdisciplinary Arts Practice
New York, NY May 2013
The members of the Committee approve the thesis of Lionel Cruet-Morales presented on May 7, 2014.
Hajoe Moderegger, Committee Chairperson
Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space)
Master of Fine Arts
In presenting this thesis/dissertation in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduate degree from the City College of New York, I agree that the Library of this University shall make it freely available for inspections. I further agree that permission for extensive copying for scholarly purposes may be granted by the professor who supervised my thesis/dissertation work, or, in the professor’s absence, by the Chair of the Department. It is understood that due recognition shall be given to me and to the City College of New York in any scholarly use which may be made of any material in my thesis/dissertation.
May 15, 2013
Abstract This thesis investigates the nature of digital data in relation to physical and environmental space. Focusing in the analytical process that seeks to understand the paradoxes of digital storage in relation to the term cloud. Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space) proposes a rethinking of the term cloud concept used for data storage units as a dishonest metaphor. Exploring the complexities structures and the physical impact of such actions, in which the natural environment is involved the project also evaluates the concept of public site, audience interaction, immersion, and collaboration through the lens of art.
This Thesis develops its argument in three distinct and interrelated stages: I. The Body in Relation to the Surrounding Space (Installation); II. Time and Pace in Multimedia (Images and Sound), III. Classifying the Unclassifiable (Based on Observation), IV. Images Content, About Clouds, and Skies (Visuals). The first stage, The Body in Relation to the Surrounding Space is an exploration on conception stet of the body in relation to the environment. Through thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze on Spinoza, Camille Flammarion, Buckminster Fuller, Beatriz Colomina, Vilém Flusser, Herbert Bayer, and Stephen Wilson. The second stage studies, Time and Pace in Multimedia through Monica Amor, Beatriz Colomina, Hélio Oiticica and Neville D’Almeida. This stage examines Oiticica’s and D’Almeida, collaboration in the series of works Cosmococas, 1970. The third stage Classifying the Unclassifiable presents Walter Benjamin and Luke
Howard as a model for observation and organization. The fourth stage emphasizes visual and conceptual aspects and questions the metaphors and symbolism of the term cloud with relation to systems of digital storage. This stage revises Hubert Damisch, Jorge Luis Borges, Lisa Gitelman and Virginia Jackson and Wolfgang Ernst, while citing multiple articles from the New York Times concerning the cloud in the contemporary world. This section concludes by revisiting Gilles Deleuze on Spinoza and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Project Description The title of the project, Espacio Intangible relates to the intangibility of digitized data, in relation to space. Images, text, sounds, and other data manifest as intangible form through digitalization. The project works with this paradox of terms; addressing space as a navigable three-dimensional environment. 1 Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space) takes the concept of the cloud - a metaphor for stored information and debunking the metaphor of natural phenomena and the intangibility of digital data into a temporary, immersive, physical space.
The project consists of several phases. First, I extended an
invitation through email and other social networks to potential contributors, requesting the submission of digital data of clouds and sky images and other atmospheric qualities from anywhere in the world. The data received contains images, metadata, messages, location, time, and date. This information is catalogued and used as a source to feed an installation in the interior of a storage 1 Fig. 1 Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space), 2014. Sketch. © Lionel Cruet, 2014.
unit container. Inside, the unit displays visual and aural information rendered and arranged, through audiovisual projected media. All of the images are shown in intervals of approximately five hundred milliseconds, juxtaposed with a voiceover that is a translation of the metadata and messages sent by the contributors. The location was selected based on the physical qualities of the context where a public space is interrupted or obstructed by the obdurate storage unit. The container uses electric power from the nearest source; it is connected through electric extension cords to make the interior visual illusions possible. In Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space), the storage unit container, the immediate surrounding environment, images, sounds, and the audience work in a system of relations where every element is part of a single body, an important component for the existence of the artwork.2 The discussion of the artwork can be expanded into topics such as metaphors of nature in the context of the cloud as an example for digital storage. Subverting the use of physical space, impacting the environment and its surroundings.
The project boarders the conversation with multiple topics related to the current systems of digital data storage, the use of land for the physical space needed for more data storage, and the cloud as a reductive metaphor applied to network services.
2 Fig. 2 Selected Location, City College of New York Campus. Image courtesy of the artist and ©Google Earth, 2014.
My work investigates the interconnection of politics, environmental concerns, and technology. Guided by ideas or responses to previous art practices and forms of representation, and current events, found in printed and online articles. The mediums work to facilitate ideas – the origin of my practice - then later transform into artworks and projects that begin as digital forms, and the computer or is used to analyze, map, and construct. My work has explored the intersections of nature and digital media in a project called “Letters of Love and Farewell Written in Water” (2012), in which short lines of text interrupt the visual narrative in a sequence of thirty-three frames. In the visual component, the two hands portray gestures pretending to hold the image, holding up the ocean water. 3 There is an intentional breaking of the relationship of faith that the hands portray in the images which, leads towards the declining stability of the ocean and the disappearance of the ocean image. The work was neither fabricated physically, nor was intended to be. It was assembled and stored in a computer drive, existing as a digital file, with infinite possibilities for future reproduction into physical prints. The work was intended to vanish into the computer system and, the temporary existence of the work is important. This characteristic of the work reiterates a transformation process that is common in physical and digital forms. Every matter is always altered or transformed, similar to biological process confined in nature.
3 Fig. 3 Lionel Cruet, “Letters of Love and Farewell Written in Water”, 2012.
A second work that explored digital files, on the condensation of data; and the intersection of nature and digital media is Untitled, (an image of the sky 001.jpg in a clear box) (2013) 4 which is single image of a clear blue sky and a white cloud suspended in the composition. The digital image was printed and reproduced on a physical sheet of paper and fragmented, cut into angular pieces. The fragmented image is then contained in a transparent acrylic box and tagged, identified by the name of the original digital file. The digital file in this case is transformed and intentionally manipulated, defragmented to be contained within another a structure. All data that is stored in computers or digital archival systems goes through a process that reduces the amount of fragmentation. In which the system organizes content into small fragments, leading to system reconfiguration and generating room for more storage. In Untitled, (an image of the sky 001.jpg in a clear box) the computer plays an important role. The computer works as a tool and forms part of a wide network of relations. The terms, mediums, and conditions for the production of the artwork happened with a computer, but the computer does not dictate the physical consideration of the artwork.
4 Fig.4 Lionel Cruet, “Untitled,” an image of the sky 001.jpg in a clear box, 2013.
I. The Body in Relation to the Surrounding Space (Installation) “In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it”5 -‐ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Nanoscale Communication Networks
Nature is the model for networks of interaction where more than one element exists and affects the others in many capacities. Gilles Deleuze, in the chapter on Ethology: Spinoza and Us, from Incorporations, discusses Spinoza’s principles. Spinoza’s proposes that one nature exists for all bodies, and one nature for all individuals. The bodies vary in infinite ways and are composed of particles (in relation to speed affecting each other). 6 According to Deleuze, Spinoza philosophical principles motivate the understanding of nature of a network of relations. In 1888, Camille Flammarion publishes a book L’atmosphére: Météorologie Populaire, in which he begins building an investigation from a scientific approach towards the perceptions of atmospheric realities. In the Second Book, Chapter 1, titled Light and The Optical Phenomena of the Air, Flammarion questions elements such as the color of the sky, light from the sun, and stars within the 5 Stephen F Buch, Nanoscale Communication Networks (Nanoscale Science and Engineering) Artech House; 1 edition, 2010. 6 Jonathan Crary, Sanford Kwinter, Incorporations, Zone Books; 1st edition, 1992.
atmosphere using metaphorical references. Referred to these qualities as illusions. In the original copy of the book, Flammarion includes a recognized illustration known as the Flammarion engraving7. The image recalls the ancestors believes, rigor by imagination and perception that the blue vault of the sky gradually meets in the Horizon. The nature of skies and clouds motivate speculations from Voltaire to Copernicus, which believed the sky was a solid plate-glass.8 The image is composed by a curved diagonal, semispherical line, which divides the rectangular plane in two sections. The right side of the image represents the Earth as a flat surface. It recalls a horizontal landscape, in which a tree is sitting in the middle of the landscape. In the background, the sun, moon, and stars complete what it seems to be the sky. All these elements confined within a cove. On the left side, where the semispherical line of the land sky meets, a figure of a human is seen, tucking the head out the left side of the plane. In the other left side the shapes and textures are completely different reminding us of clouds, firmament, and celestial compositions. The human meets his endeavors towards the horizon in which the sky and Earth meets. Under the image a footnote reads: Un missionnaire du moyen áge raconte qu’il avait trouvé le point oú le ciel et la Terre se touchent… (A missionary of the Middle Ages tells that he had found the point where the sky and the Earth touch…) 9 and Flammarion certifies that the illustration pretends to search for the real facts; “Or cette belle voute n’existe pas!” 7 Fig.5 Flammarion illustration, L’atmosphére: Météorologie Populaire, 1888. 8
Camille Flammarion, L’atmosphére: Météorologie Populaire, P. 101
Ibid., 163. 7
(And yet this vault has, in fact, no real existence!”)10 Flammarion confirms that the sky, as a celestial vault, is merely an effect of light with degrees of transparent illuminations that creates illusions. While Spinoza’s philosophical approach that nature is a network of relations in which bodies are affected, Flammarion reiterates that “The atmospheric air is one of the most transparent bodies know” 11, and continues describing that those bodies when they are in relation to others tend to transform in levels of obscurities and are affected by other objects and elements in the same environment. Looking from outside the perspective of the Earth, the skies and clouds surround us, and are part of the greater environment. Nevertheless, the Earth can be perceived from outer space as a machine that moves and transforms. As humans and organisms, we function on Earth as passengers; someone who traveling is using a machine. Participating in such action turns the participant from passive to active. The participant is placed in a context of being in a relationship with nature and its movement and existence. Thinking about the scale of spaceship vs. a passenger, the passenger is relatively small compared with the machine. A quote from Buckminster Fuller helps to understand the active relationship of the Earth to us: …Although we see the sun rise up in the East and set in the West we now know that actually it’s angles that are busy rotating the Earth around the sun. It wasn’t always like that. Once upon a time everyone thought that the sun revolved around earth. I find this a reasonable assumption since you’re woken up by the sun in the East and whilst you’re minding your own business during the
10 Camille Flammarion, L’atmosphére: Météorologie Populaire, P. 162 11
Ibid., 103. 8
day, it passes over your head and drops out of sight in the west. While some illusions look more real, others feel more real. The earth spins around its axis every 24 hrs. at 1,000 mph and orbits the sun once a year at 66,000 mph. Adding up the spinning and orbiting means you’ve travelled about 550 miles since you started reading this paragraph. Or, put another way, you’re traveling through space at 18.5 miles a second - faster than a bullet. Have a nice day. 12
Fuller is thinking about the earth as a vehicle with nomadic characteristics; and also as a transformative being that creates illusions appealing to the perception and sensations of humans, in this case the passenger. The transformative aspects of the environment are as common to see or quantify, hours go by days, weeks, months, and years. Transformations are based on a structure that seems repetitive to our sight but is a reconfiguration of its own existence. Beatriz Colomina in her article Enclosed by Images: The Eameses’ Multi-Media Architecture addresses the dynamic of images in the environment. Discusses the use of media and the overload of visual information in relation to architectural space. Colomina explains how an order of disorder, speed, juxtaposition of images, sensory overload presents information, leading to a new form of attention. The article presents a brief history and analysis of the American Exhibition in Moscow of 1959, and explains the sociopolitical relationship of the United States with Russia.13 Colomina’s proposes that the Eameses film, Glimpses of the USA, 1959, transformed the status of space, architecture, and the world of images. The film was projected within a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller. 12 Alan Fletcher, The Art of Looking Sideways, Phaidon Press, 2001. P. 220. 13 Beatriz Colomina, Enclosed by Images: The Eameses’ Multi-Media Architecture, Grey Room Journal, No. 2. Cambridge, The MIT Press, 2001.
Inside the structure, the film was presented portraying glimpses of domestic life in the United States. Glimpses of the USA offered a simplified, immediate access to information and presented a pristine image of the United States of America, where any elements that lead to a bad perception of United States society where excluded. The film started with images of the sky and constellations and landscape, farms, hills, etc. but only traces of people on Earth. The film was presented from the perspective of satellites taking pictures of people performing daily activities and focusing on details of everyday life. The film was shown as movement that comes from a perception of the outer world to the inside. The narrative of the film was presented in large-scale projections; show glimpses of images, jumping from one to the next. The article includes a diagram from the designer Herbert Bayer, Diagram of Field of Vision, 1930.14 Where a human figurehead is supplemented by a large eye and is immersed in an environment surrounded by multiple planes of images, the eye cannot escape the screens. This diagram could be an ideal example to understand the for Vilém Flusser a Universe of Technical Images; “When images supplant text, we experience, perceive, and value the world and ourselves differently, no longer in a one-dimensional, linear, process-oriented, historical way but rather in a two-dimensional way, as surface, context, scene.”
If we analyze the diagram and Flusser’s quote we can
understand that the behavior of the spectator is changed into one embedded in 14 Fig. 6 Herbet Bayer Diagram of Field of Vision, 1930, Beatriz Colomina, Enclosed by Images: The Eameses’ Multi-Media Architecture, Grey Room Journal ,. Pp. 21 – 22 15 Flusser, Vilem. Roth, Nancy Ann. Into the Universe of Technical Images (Electronic Mediations) University of Minnesota Press, 2011.
fields of visual content. This incorporation of the human figure or spectator in a surrounded environment can also be seen as a model for virtuality; concept to be applied to basic imitations of reality, essence, or effect that don’t have appearance in a physical form. On the other hand, Stephen Wilson in a section of Information Arts, in a header title asks a question: Are Bodies and Physical Space Relevant? , Wilson suggests that since the fast growth of technologies and virtual reality, the models that become more realistic are now supplementing reality and the importance of a body in physical space. 16 Wilson’s discussion is convincing, since there are patterns in society where models of digital communication are creating a physical bond with the body. As an example we are re-thinking our relation to electronic devices, and how they relate and mimic our life through data, creating systems that are modified based on our interest.17 The relationship of the body with Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space) is to bring the physical body into the virtual multimedia space, where the medium is evened out to a position of human scale. The transformation of digital media into a physical space, with environmental qualities, challenges the manifestations of digital information. Retrospectively responding to Wilson’s question, the installation is based on the same parameters, in which the bodies and all elements 16 Wilson, Stephen. Information Arts: Art, Science and Technology. The MIT Press, 2001. Pp. 633. 17
Gitelman, Lisa. “Raw Data” Is an Oxymoron (Infrastructures), Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2013. Pp. 1 - 13 11
(audience or spectator) are in relation and have to confront data in an equal scale and physical space.
II. Time and Pace in Multimedia (Images and Sound) Let us now return to Beatriz Colomina in Enclosed by Images: The Eameses’ Multi-Media Architecture in the journal The Grey Room. Investigating on The Eameses multimedia installation, it was a situation where multimedia and mass media worked as a form of ephemeral architecture (reacting to the audience in an immersive space). Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space) starts from audience virtual and online participation and its completion happens through the audience immersion. Hélio Oiticia’s works are essential to cite here. Oiticica’s works defy the conventions and formalism of painting and sculpture; experimenting with form of representation. Monica Amor in the article From Work to Frame, In Between, and Beyond: Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica 1959 – 1964, she describes how for “Oiticica the color became an element that allowed him to escape the constraints of painting while remaining in dialogue with it.” 18 Confirming that his experiments of painting and sculpture turn into hinting at the environmental and public dimensions. This later transformed into freestanding surfaces than can be seen from many directions. Further more the body became part of the artwork through immersive and interactive installations. 18 Amor, Monica, From Work to Frame, In Between, and Beyond: Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, 1959 - 1964: Grey Room, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2010. 12
Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space) started with the gathering of data received from the contributors, containing images, metadata, messages, location, time, and date. This information is catalogued and used as a source to feed the interior of the container storage unit. Following his interest in film, he collaborated with the filmmaker Neville D’Almeida in 1970 to generate a series of works called Cosmococas.19 These pieces are series of environmental installations where happenings, audience participation, objects, music, and series of images are projected in an enclosed and sensorial experience including the display of images, critiquing society by reflecting the darkness of culture and social behaviors like, the use of drugs and sexual content that was common of the time. Cosmococa 1: CC1 Trashiscapes is without doubt an inviting atmosphere that induces the spectator to recline in a large expanse of mattresses that cover the floor.20 The apparently ‘relaxed’ or calm environment is interrupted with captivating images projected on the walls and ceiling of the space. The images are recognizable figures from popular culture such as Marilyn Monroe. The content of the images is outlined with a white line that symbolizes cocaine. Oticica’s works has always relied on the interest and consideration of the audience, loaded content, and the insertion of the body where more than one visual or sensorial element comes to play an important role. 19 The Wexner Centre, Hélio Oiticica, Frieze, 2002. https://www.frieze.com/issue/review/helio_oiticica/ 20
Fig.7 Hélio Oiticica, Cosmococa 1: CC1 Trashiscapes (in collaboration with Neville D’Almeida), 1973, Installation, 114 x 76 cm, courtesy of Berezdivin Collection Espacio 1414. 13
Contrary to Oiticia’s and D’Almeida installation, the immediate audience assumption is as a space for leisure. The work has a strong socio political aspect that could come across regardless of the audience comfort. I believe that when the audience is encouraged to relax, the message and content become less and less important. Colomina’s article Enclosed by Images: The Eameses Multi-Media Architecture also discusses how in the contemporary culture a new way of ordering is lead by disorder, speed and juxtaposition of images, appealing to sensory overload and leading to a new form of attention. Putting these considerations in perspective Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space) will display inside the modular container storage unit, visual and aural information rendered and arranged, through audiovisual projected media. Each of the images will be shown in intervals of approximately five hundred milliseconds, juxtaposed with a voice-over. This is a translation of the metadata and information sent by the contributors to the project. The audience will not have time for leisure since the images and content will be presented in a fast timing.
III. Classifying the Unclassifiable (Category Based on Observation) Walter Benjamin wrote the short essay To the Planetarium (excerpted from OneWay Street. Gesammelte Schriften) in which he reflects on the relationships of powers and control lead by technologies. Benjamin declare that the flowering of astronomy at the beginning of modern age happen through a process of technological development. Benjamin references Kepler, Copernicus and Tycho Braille as not only driven by scientific impulses, but rather, optical connections to
the universe. And as a process of observation we gain knowledge of the distance of elements around us. He also assures that it “is a dangerous error of modern men to regard this experience as unimportant and avoidable, and to consign it to the individual as the poetic rapture of starry night.” In which the phenomena should hold the graceful and poetic act to captivate us. And concludes the essay saying, “Technology is the mastery of not nature but of the relation between nature and man.” 21 Formulating this thought confirms the strong influence between technology and humans in the process of understanding the surrounding environment.
Luke Howard, a British chemist wrote an essay published in 1803 entitled Modifications of Clouds,22 where he examines the modifications and transitions of clouds towards a process of naming and classification. His intention was driven by observation and later was understood as early meteorology23. Howard’s essay and investigation led him to create a system for classification of clouds based on visual references, identification, and characteristics. The desire to classify the unclassifiable has a direct connection with the approach towards my project. Howard’s consistency was on the search of patterns within clouds, through an 21 Benjamin, Walter, Jennings, Michael W. Doherty Brigid, Levin Thomas Y., The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media, Belknap Press, 2008. Pp. 57 - 58 22
Luke Howard, F.R.S. &c. Essay of the Modifications of Clouds, London: Churchill & Sons, New Burlington Street. 1803.
David Wilson-Barker, Science, Vol. 21, No. 524, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1893.
observation process. His investigation is now considered in scientific research. The point of departure for scientific cloud naming was developed. In Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space) the visual data presented in the interior of the storage container are primarily images of clouds and skies, sent by participants, then collected and classified. The images portray the process of observation of the collaborator. The images are classified and arranged, presented in an order by its extension. Initially images were collected through an email inbox, transferred to a hard drive; and catalogued by name of the contributor and the location where it was taken. The classification also sorts the image by numerical order of submission, where they were taken, colors in the images and their composition.
VI. Images Content, About the Clouds, and Skies (Visual) Hubert Damisch in his book A Theory of /Cloud/: Toward a History of Painting, considers the representation of and the cloud as a semiotic operator, becoming dynamic and facilitating a symbolic space. Damisch quotes a text from John Ruskin where he defines the term “cloud” as having an ambiguous status. “Sometimes it designates the metrological phenomenon that modern painting established as its effective emblem, at points where symbols and imaginary representations overlaps.” 24 The ambiguities of the term cloud that Damisch presents through Ruskin are symbolic rather than literal, an important fact to understand about the relevance of the term when applied to other entities. 24 Damisch, Hubert. A Theory of /Cloud/: Towards a History of Painting, Stanford Univerity Press, 2002. Pp. 190.
The term cloud works as a metaphor. A point of view echoed by Jorge Luis Borges in the book Arte poética a collection of six conferences, in which he integrates multiple elements of poetry. In the Chapter La Metáfora, Borges explains that metaphors are a union of two distinct things.25 Underlining that all of them are generated from epistemological origins. Borges declared, “Yo diría que lo importante a propósito de la metáfora es el hecho de que el lector o el oyente la perciban como metáfora,” as an assumption that metaphors are possible if there is an audience or reader that can perceive them. If we think on the term cloud (recently applied to systems of digital storage) there is an intentional duality or paradox of concepts with the ‘cloud’ as entities that suggest the transformation, intangibility, and immateriality to ‘digital storage’ that has a physical presence and other repercussions. But now that digital data exist, it needs to be archived in units, somewhere to be accessible and revisited. Lisa Gitelman and Virginia Jackson in the book Raw Data is an Oxymoron quote Andrew Warick, on “the era of Big Data that has been enabled by the widespread availability of electronic media, specifically mainframe computers, servers and server farms, and storage area networks”26 The scale of data and the necessity for storage are generating an increasing demand for endless digital information. Wolfgang Ernst and Jussi Parikka in the publication Digital Memory and the Archive, during the introduction about the models of 25 Borges, Jorge Luis. Arte poética: Seis Conferencias, Critica, Grijalbo Mondadori, 2001. P. 37 – 39 26
Gitelman, Lisa. “Raw Data” Is an Oxymoron (Infrastructures), Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2013. Pp. 1 - 13 17
digital archive such as emails that attempt to offer storage space, a quote from Parrika states, “ We are miniarchivists ourselves in this information society, which could be more aptly called an information management society. Hence we see the business of the cloud storage, mobile storage, and such flourishing.”27 Parrika describes the current situation where a new system of economy is budding based on the demand for access to structures of digital storage that can offer instant, simultaneous and endless access to information. Storage space for digital data has become a significant contemporary issue; with a growing interest from businesses. There are two types of digital storage or cloud; a personal unit or hard drive, which provides an individual with a service, and an online service, available in a network and accessible on many types of devices, anytime, anywhere. 28 Both types of systems have developed a hierarchical economical discrepancy of use based on the currency for more capacity, and capacity for more capability. Functioning as a system of capital interests and economic growth, these favor businesses and private interests, where negotiations are made as a form of immovable goods.29 The increasing demand for the cloud has an effect on a physical land and is pushing geographical expansion, and requires increasing use of natural resources for its proper function. This 27 Wolfgang Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive (Electronic Mediations), University of Minnesota Press, 2012. 28
Gregory Schmidt, A Cloud of One’s Own, New York Times, 2014. http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/21/a-cloud-of-ones-own/
Quentin Hardy, Box, a Cloud Storage Firm, Plans I.P.O., New York Times, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/25/technology/box-a-cloud-storage-firm plans-ipo.html 18
necessitates solutions for the problem of energy consumption; companies in charge of the cloud business need to negotiate with countries that have the “correct” physical and environmental conditions to sustain the demand of such systems. For instance, this activity is already happening in Iceland since 2009. In an article from the BBC, Simon Hancock explains that the financial crisis forced the country to become home of computing power, wiring and connecting with fiber optics with the world, and therefore constructing server farms. The alarm of this situation is the high and increasing digital carbon footprint.30 All electronic data, such as texts, images, video, sounds, and documents requires a physical place in order to retrieve information by users. This implies an exhaustive use of natural resources for cooling systems and for extensive amounts of sustained electric power. On the other end, the person who uses the cloud personal unit or the online service performs as a naïve archivist and platform user. The user manages data, which is in essence intangible, but in fact occupies a physical space and consumes energy for maintenance. These systems are labeled under the metaphor of the cloud, using as a reference the natural phenomena of condensation as particles of water suspended in the atmosphere; its intangible quality, and transformative aspect, but in this case, to name a system with commercial interests and strong physical qualities. The word cloud is used as a symbolic concept for a complex system of storage. An important component for Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space) is the images 30 Simon Hancock, Iceland looks to serve the world, BBC News, 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/click_online/8297237.stm
and visual of skies and clouds. And to place a situation in which the storage occupies a visible space for data. One might think that preceding from the initial quote form Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that nature is as a composition of elements that connect, rather than isolated items, gives too much importance to nature, but in essence, reflects on how our bodies relate to the environment, as well as how our decisions impact the environment from a small to larger scale. Again, returning to Gilles Deleuze chapter on Spinoza, that one nature exists for all bodies and one nature for all individuals. The bodies vary in infinite ways and are composed by particles in relation to speed affecting each other.31 In order to understand relationship of our bodies with intangible data storage we have to locate our position in the network of relations. The inevitable increasing demand for services is responding to actual situations underlining the influence on the environment. Now is the time to realize the environmental requirements versus the data that aims to be stored. And how our bodies will be affected in such operation.
Thesis Production Process
In my approach to the subject, I am rethinking the symbolism of nature to signify technological performances. I am interested in a temporary storage space with the possibility of public access where the audience has a physical interaction with the space. However, the public access and interaction with the installation is just one 31 Jonathan Crary, Sanford Kwinter, Incorporations, Zone Books; 1st edition, 1992.
of the preoccupations. The installation will not have any permanent human presence announcing or promoting the installation; printed material announcing or inviting students will not occur. My concern is to attract an audience based on curiosity generated from the obstruction of physical space and the activation of a public site. There is an awareness of audience variation depending on the location where the installation is placed. I am interested in the consumption of energy from nearby sources, presenting a scenario of a piece that is almost autonomous but requires energy from other sources to exist, like a parasite or smaller body tied to a larger body. In practical terms the installation is an independent storage container but it requires a source of power to run the audiovisual material. It is important for the work to be placed in a position where the digital information and its storage occupy a physical presence in a real human scale. The obstacles encountered in the production of the project are related to the logistics and permissions needed for its use in any public site. Security concerns are addressed through the piece will be under surveillance camera built in to the interior corner of the container to secure the equipment. From the perspective of production, the initial step will be generating the source of content where data such as texts and images are stored digitally and arranged for the installation. The audiovisual equipment will be set up to present the information inside the container. The container will be placed in the City College of New York Campus as a point of departure. During the highly active semester the college population will see and encounter the installation. The project
considers the public and private space for placement and duration on each site selected.
Audience and Exhibition
My intended audience would be the usual audience in a public space, In this case especially the university community, including but not limited to, students, faculty, invited critics, tech-savvy audiences, and contributors of data for the audiovisual material. The project achieves its purpose when the audience connects current concepts that are addressed in the installation. The robust physicality of the storage container unit in relation to the intangibility of data. I am interested in the obstruction of the public site landscape. The installation is intended to be moved and can be placed in multiple locations; consequently the audience is intended to change as well. Further considerations of exhibition of the installation are not confined to gallery or museum institutions, the installation can be located in or near by the terrain of an institution. I take into consideration interaction and audience proximity to the container storage unit. The interaction and proximity will happen through the choice of location, visual and audio aesthetics. The public interaction raises questions about the control of unexpected behavior from the audience. The authorities such as Public Safety and Police Department will address the unexpected behavior. For the publication of the thesis, invitation to the opening reception and event, I will use the web as a form of dissemination. The work will be documented
through photography and video. I will let the audience take images of the installation and allow for publishing and sharing on social media and the web. This act will recall the initial gestures of the project, which is the original online contributors submission. All the data, images, texts, and audio presented in the installation are sources from contributors. They have agreed with consent forms to use the material for artistic purposes only.
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Fig.1 Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space), 2014. Sketch. © Lionel Cruet, 2014.
Fig. 2 Selected Location, City College of New York Campus. Image courtesy of the artist and ©Google Earth, 2014.
Fig.3 Lionel Cruet, “Letters of Love and Farewell Written in Water”, Digital images, courtesy or the artist, 2012.
Fig.2 Lionel Cruet, “Untitled,” (an image of the sky 001.jpg in a clear box). Inkjet print, acrylic clear box, courtesy of the artist, 2013.
Fig.5 Flammarion Illustration, L’atmosphére: Météorologie Populaire, 1888.
Fig. 6 Beatriz Colomina, Enclosed by Images: The Eameses’ Multi-Media Architecture, Grey Room Journal , Herbert Bayer, Diagram of Field of Vision, 1930. P. 21
Fig.7 Hélio Oiticica, Cosmococa 1: CC1 Trashiscapes (in collaboration with Neville D’Almeida), 1973, Installation, 114 x 76 cm, image by John Betancourt, courtesy of Berezdivin Collection Espacio 1414.
Fig.8 Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space), 2014. Exterior view. Audiovisual installation in storage container, 7’ x 16' x 8’. © Lionel Cruet, 2014. image by Pablo Corradi.
Fig. 10 Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space), 2014. Exterior view, time sequence. Audiovisual installation in storage container, 7’ x 16' x 8’. © Lionel Cruet, 2014.
Fig. 9 Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space), 2014. Interior view. Audiovisual installation in storage container, 7’ x 16' x 8’. © Lionel Cruet, 2014. image by Anto Vega.
Fig. 11 Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space), 2014. Interior view time sequence. Audiovisual installation in storage container, 7’ x 16' x 8’. © Lionel Cruet, 2014. Images by Anto Vega.
List of contributors for Espacio Intangible (Intangible Space) Amanda Arsenic Caroline Taglietti Chaveli Sifre Cristal Dominguez Dhanashree Shenoy Dhara Rivera Dorothy Barrie Fabio Silva Felipe Herrera Patrocinio Francesca Soto Ruiz Hector Cruet Heyda Ortîz Itsí Razo Saucedo Jamin Lin Jéssica Zago José Alberto López Joseph J. Hoffman Kara Schmidt Karla Leticia Kelly Hoffman Laura Zago Lionel Cruet Magda Morales Maria Isabel Rodriguez Marianna de Nadal Mayra Aguilar Michelle Rivera Naho Taruishi Natalia Zahnern Genro Paul Limperopulos Ricardo Albertorio Sandy Thomas Franz Sepulvedas Family Ting-Lin Hou Warren James
Published on May 30, 2014
Thesis submitted to obtain Master of Fine Arts from City University New York - The City College New York Espacio Intangible (Intangible Sp...